Trumpet professor reaches students across eastern North Carolina
Middle and high school musicians at home because of the coronavirus pandemic are learning from East Carolina University trumpet professor Gabriel DiMartino on TikTok, an app for sharing short videos.
Providing information is part of the School of Music’s commitment to community, DiMartino said.
“It’s a good way to engage people now that they’re home, and it’s a place they already are,” he said.
DiMartino started using TikTok last year as a way to reach and potentially boost student recruitment efforts. Users create short, 15- or 60-second videos with music, filters or other features. Text can be added, which provides a lot of information succinctly.
His most popular post has been playing “Mouret Rondeau” from “The Wedding Book,” with more than 168,000 views and 34,000 likes. The post, loaded before COVID-19 put a halt to large celebrations, said for a small investment, weddings are a good way for music students to earn money while in high school and college.
His recent posts range from playing and transcribing the theme from the popular Nintendo Switch Animal Crossing video game and providing short melodies for students to copy and play to providing daily warmup tips and a video tour of his trumpets.
The videos complement DiMartino’s asynchronous online teaching, which he began when ECU moved to alternative course delivery when on-campus classes were canceled because of the pandemic.
In his new, purpose-built home studio, DiMartino asks his ECU students to use Canvas to record videos for him to evaluate. He can respond using either the computer or his iPhone. For music, good headphones and a spaced pair of microphones are essential for evaluating and recording. “It’s really important,” he added. “A trumpet can sound like a kazoo on the phone.
“You have to know what you’re listening for,” DiMartino said. “They need to hear a really accurate reproduction of good sound.”
He has found this method works best for him and his students in the current environment. One student has been going to an empty church with internet access to play his trumpet assignments to be considerate of others in the home. If it’s 11 a.m. or 11 p.m., the student has the freedom to complete his assignment at a convenient time and still have the work turned in on time.
Pirate Nation is adapting to changes in teaching, learning and operations during the coronavirus pandemic. A majority are now working from home.
“Luckily, none of my students have to go without internet access,” he said, but many don’t have connections that can handle being on Canvas while someone else is watching Netflix and another person is on a conference call.
“Not only do you have to be quiet, but you can’t do anything else. It only increases tension in the house,” DiMartino said. “You have to plan around it.”
One of the hardest things for students now is managing their time when it’s not just their own, DiMartino said. “There’s not much of a school schedule; they just have things that are due. Some classes are meeting live, other classes are never meeting, or they’re like mine, we’re trading videos.”
Middle and high school students are used to even more structure led by a band director. “If band isn’t available, what do you do now?” DiMartino said. “The challenge is to find resources.”